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Making an Effective Collection Call: Doing it the right way

Effective collection call

Nobody likes making collection calls, but someone has to do it.

Since most businesses do credit sales, therefore this write-up is not only valuable for lending and collection businesses alone but all types of businesses.

I am confident, you would learn a thing or two for this write-up, even if it is minute.

A collection call to a debtor can either increase or reduce the chance of recovering the debt, this is why you have to either get it right or leave it undone, you cannot afford to get it wrong.

Below are some of the tips of making effective collections calls:

•      BE PREPARED: Get all the information about the loan ready before making the call. If possible, make the loan file available. You cannot afford to appear as if you do not know what you are doing. Some debtors are smart and would try to get you off balance by testing your knowledge about the debt. Arm yourselves with facts like exact amount owed, terms of sale products/services purchased, payment due date and previous calls report.

•      BE CALM AND RELAX: Come up with a greeting that says you’re happy, pleasant and confident. When your customer answers the phone and realizes you’re calling about a past due invoice, they’re not going to be excited. You want to portray confidence and not a dull, boring message. Smile when you talk on the phone; it will be noticeable in your voice

•      BE POLITE, BUT FIRM: I always say this to Loan Officers: speaking rudely to a debtor does not make them pay, many times it only worsen the situation. It might work temporarily with some customers. There is a difference between being rude and being firm. Speak professionally, but authoritatively. Take Control and Don’t Let Go. Address the debtor by name throughout the conversation. This shows respect on your part and commands their attention. Be careful not to overdo it, or it will start to sound contrived and annoying. Stay focused. Some debtors will try to get you off track by complaining about service or the terms of the loan, or somehow shifting the blame for their delinquency to you. Be polite, even validate their opinion. But always bring them right back to the point of your call — getting paid the money rightfully due to your company

•      BE READY TO HANDLE EXCUSES: Debtors always have ready-made excuses for not fulfilling their obligations. The first rule is to listen to the excuses, and show empathy where applicable. Then it is your turn to make an emphasis on why they still have to make the repayment. Do not make an impression that you are accepting the excuses, no matter what it is.

•      LEARN TO BE FLEXIBLE: There are more than five ways to kill a snake. There is no magic bullet in debt collection. Much of debt collection requires wisdom. Every debtor is different. What works really well with one, may get you nowhere with another. Listen carefully to the debtor and you will pick up clues to the best way to handle each situation.

•      NAIL THINGS DOWN: A call that doesn’t result in a commitment from the debtor is a wasted call. If you can’t get them to commit to payment in full, get a promise of something — a partial payment or a call back with a payment date. Make sure you control the timing. Don’t ask, “When can you get back to me on this?” Rather, ask “Will you be calling me by Wednesday?“ This puts them on pressure. Don’t hang up the phone without summarizing the results of the call: their commitment; your expectations; and, the consequences if your expectations are not met. Emphasize the urgency of the matter. It’s easy for the customer to forget your call as soon as he puts down the receiver, especially if they don’t think you were really concerned about the outcome. And finally, if the debtor doesn’t follow through on their commitment, make sure you follow through on the consequences. If you don’t, they will never take you seriously.

Thank you for reading…

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Written by AMEEN AJIBOLA

I am a graduate of Science who has spent the past six years building a career in the Financial Services Industry. I have experience in credit and financial analysis, microfinance lending, project management, sales, monitoring and evaluation, financial due diligence, Investment Management, and business development.

I am an MBA candidate at the University of South Wales. In addition, I am a last stage student of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers.

I have been opportune to work with one of the biggest microfinance networks in West Africa, the biggest pension fund manager in West Africa and the biggest bank in Africa.

I have extensive work experience in international development programs in East and West Africa.

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